Sonic Frontiers Line 3 vs. BAT VK-5i

Im trying to choose between these two preamps. I have heard the VK-5i, however, I didnt listen to the line 3. Some say its good. I know i need to listen for myself to be sure, but there's no dealer around. Please help and im only inertested in these two preamps
I recently purchased a Line 3 on the used market and coudn't be happier with its performance. It has all the features that you might need. Runs on the hot side so needs good ventilation. I don't know anything about the BAT VK-5i preamp. Actually, I am curious how the Line 3 stacks up against a good solid state unit like the Bryston 25. I suspect that the solid state units have lower noise floors than their tube counter parts. Does this come at the price of a 'harsher sound'? Wish I new the answer. Back to your question. I don't think that there is any tube preamp with an audible better sound then the line 3. Maybe equal but not better.
I recently replaced a Line 1 with the 3 & I couldn't be happier. I had a Line 2 demo unit for a month & that was excelen also.The 3 betters the 2 in the deep tight bass it produces. When I had the Line 1 in everybody was surprised by the bass I was getting with a tubed preamp.My only experience with the BAT is from hearing it at dealerships a couple of times so I can't really comment on it.The Sonic Frontiers is overbuil & the tubes are readily available.Due to their financial problems some dealerships have been dropping SF.My favorite dealer was one of them & I was able to get a new unit for 3K from them.With a litle searching you might be able to do likewise.The Line 2 has an A rating from Stereophile & the 3 is better sounding! Good Luck
I've owned the Line 3 for about 3 weeks. I was in a stereo store last week and listened to a system with the BAT VK-50SE the big brother of the VK-5i. I'd say the VK-50 was dead even with the Line 3. Your concern about the noise floor is interesting. The Line 3 is the quietest preamp I've ever heard including the 380s Levinson. I guess the Ayre might be quieter but have only read the reviews. Buy the way the thing you need to consider is price. I got my Line 3 used on Audiogon for $2600, which included the registration card. So this demo unit (new) was a real steal. The Line 2 is a Stereophile Class A component and the Line 3 is even better.